31.7.06

Let's not overreact, ok?

So, Mel Gibson's an idiot. I don't have a problem with his version of Catholicism. I do have a problem with his homophobia. And now, I have a problem with his anti-Semitism (and let's leave Passion out of it, shall we?).

But Karen's calling for ALA to remove his READ poster from sale. And apparently, some Jewish groups want him prosecuted for hate crimes (WTF?!) Both are an overreaction (and I really hope that the hate crimes thing isn't true: I've tried to find other confirmation of this, and all I can find is this from the ADL).

The best thing? Don't go to his movies. Hurt him in the wallet, where it counts.

28.7.06

Links Galore

27.7.06

Not again!

Tour de France winner failed drug test in race. First Tyler, now Floyd...

Tag: ,

Cat Blogging



What a cat!

Ahem.

A couple of days ago I posted that some people need to Get. A. Life.

It could be posited that anyone moved to blog about said people might also be in need of a Life.

So, for the record: I HAVE NO LIFE. Deal with it.

You are now returned to the regular musings, rants and ephemera of Lazygal. Who has no life.

26.7.06

Edubiblioblogorant

In an editorial in today's NYTimes (Demanding vs. Doing (login required), I read the following:
The story of the No Child Left Behind Act is all about the huge gap between setting standards and creating the conditions in which those standards can be met. One of the lawÂ’s most critical provisions requires that all public school teachers in core academic courses be "“highly qualified" by this year.
Note the phrase "core academic courses". In other words, no librarians. No art teachers. Only those teaching English, Math, Science and Social Studies/History. Because that's all we want our children to learn. Teaching them about how to find, evaluate and use information isn't important, either.

How shortsighted is that? Students need to do more than just study for tests (high stakes tests, no less). They need to be exposed to other countries, other cultures (newsflash: we're not the only country out there, and English is not spoken everywhere). And they need librarians.

It constantly saddens me that Laura Bush, famed ex-school librarian now serving as First Lady, has said and done so little about this issue. Here's a perfect opportunity to have someone Highly Placed say something in our defense, and she's mum. Maybe she should read these tidbits.

Seems to me that the more we (the People) insist that school is not just about testing, not just about the Three R's, the better chance we have at getting the education system our students deserve.

Tags: ,

The more things change

Israel will occupy part of Lebanon. Sigh.

25.7.06

Exactly my point

In one of today's WSJ editorials (Acid Tests: No Child Left Behind is beyond uninformative. It is deceptive), a former teacher says: "'I want to teach my students how to write,' he said, 'not teach them how to pass a test that says they can write.'"

I know far too many teachers that feel the same (be it about English, math, science or some other subject). The point behind education should not be to (again, quoting the article) "hold good students hostage to the performance of the least talented". Yet that's what we're doing, all in the name of Good Education. It's appalling that our system, which should be producing the best, brightest, most capable students out there, is instead starting to produce test-taking drones.

No wonder they're escaping into screen-based reality, finding the virtual worlds of MySpace and Facebook more appealing. No wonder good teachers are leaving the profession - who would want to be hemmed in by prepared scripts, with your job on the line if you don't get good results based on one test a year? Even AOL "retention specialists" get more than one shot to make good.

A friend of mine, in Texas, reported that the influx of New Orleans survivors drove down test scores in her school (NOTE: this is probably due to the trauma involved in the move from NOLA to Texas, as well as different testing and schooling methods). So Texas schools will suffer because, under NCLB, they're not serving all their students. Other states are facing loss of funding because their scores have not risen high enough.

That's one of the reasons I support private (or independent) school education. We're not governed by the strictures that surround NCLB. We don't have to "teach to the test". And we produce students that are actually interested in what they've learned. What more could any teacher (or librarian) ask for?

Tag:

24.7.06

Imponderables

I'm trying to find updates for our Shakespeare books, and found this interesting description of one: "Within these pages are hundreds of facts and stories about the Bard of Avon. Discover, for example, the ongoing quest to translate his entire works into Klingon."

Klingon????? Some people need to Get. A. Life.

Notable Quotes

Love is about giving, about caring for the other person's welfare. Love is treating someone, in the Kantian sense, never as a means but as an end in themselves. Love is sacrifice, love is something you work at, something you build like a house or tend like a plant, brick by brick, drop by drop, day by day. Nonsense. Old wive's tales, old husband's tales. That is affection they are talking about, that is companionship, that is charity, that is tickets to the Cancer Research Ball. You must ask the young if you want to know what love is. Only they are deep enough in it to describe. We older ones have clues and simulcra, we base our judgement, like pathologists do, on the dents and scars and sediments of hearts long kept in formaldehyde. It is the pulsing heart you want to probe: the pulsing, beating, leaping, dipping, fluttering heart of a seventeen-year-old.
Sabine, A.P.

22.7.06

Feeling a little blessed

I don't know 90% of the songs that include the 32 worst lyrics of all time! Unfortunately, I do know 10% and now they're jumbled in my head as earworms. (þ: ALOTTFMA)

Tags: ,

21.7.06

Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

The Toronto Star reports The death of the double entendre.
What disappoints me as I slip the bounds of the coveted 18 to 34-year old demographic is that advertising is not treating the newest batch of consumers as intelligent peers. Advertising has forgotten how to be subtle. Worst of all, it requires no cultural competencies to decode... Cultural competencies (which... vary from subculture to subculture) reward the solving of little visual mysteries, the ability to spot clues that others cannot see.
While I wholeheartedly agree that there is a lessening of the subtle in advertising (ditto talent - whoever thought up the new GEICO gecko campaign should be shot), I don't think that's completely true in other areas, like television or movies or theatre.

Smallville, for example, often has little "winks" (oops - showing my age - they're "shout outs" now) to previous iterations and other things that the actors have done. Young children can appreciate Shrek without understanding the inside jokes and cultural allusions aimed at adults (sort of like Rocky and Bullwinkle for the 00s).

I say this having just gotten in a new edition of The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy at MPOW. Yes, it tends to skew towards the Dead White Middle Class Males experience but... the point behind it is well taken. There are certain things that we, as a culture, as a society, should know, or at least recognize. I'm not saying that everyone should remember the phrase "Midasize it", or remember what they were doing when Al Haig said that he was in charge. But (as the preface says) "[c]ommunity is built up of shared knowledge and values --— the same shared knowledge that is taken for granted when we read a book or newspaper." One might also add watch a movie (on screen or YouTube) or tv show.

Back to advertising, though. Even for products for the "older" (34+) crowd, the general tone and quality of the ads has gone down. It used to be that there were a few ads that I enjoyed seeing - there was humor, or something interesting in the camera work, that drew me and made me want to see it (this applies to both print and screen ads). That's less and less frequent. In fact, I can't remember the last time I said to someone, "Have you seen the ad for _____"?

Read this

Live from an Israeli bunker (þ: Library Stuff) If I can find something equally good from Lebanon, I'll post that link, too.

(PERSONAL NOTE: My aunt and uncle live in Jerusalem - and yes, I'm worried as hell about them)

18.7.06

Schadenfreude

My landlord is a bit of a fanatic about his lawn. Think I'm kidding?

Thursday is the the day for the lawn guys to come. I arrive home to a flurry of mowing and blowing and trimming - this goes on for at least 3 1/2 hours. Then, when it's all quieted down and I can finally relax and watch telly or read: he goes over their work.

Even though he "trusts" them to do the majority of the work, there's always something more to be done. It could be mulching. It could be retrimming the areas around the flower beds. It could be remowing something. It could be trimming the hedge that separates my backyard from their sideyard (to the point of it offering little to no privacy).

This goes on every week night and weekend, too.

Granted, all this work does mean he has a lawn to envy - nary a weed or blade of grass out of place. My father would love to have a lawn this wonderful.

So I'm particularly enjoying the fact that in the midst of this incredibly well-kept, well-groomed lawn are... mushrooms. Interlopers. That Which Does Not Belong.

hee hee hee

14.7.06

Reading Update

I'm plowing through the swag books I got, and just finished Dying Light. It's one of those hard-boiled procedurals, in the Rebus mode but different enough to be interesting.

Anyway, I returned to my desk yesterday morning to find that our Head had left two mysteries, with a note to "call and [he'd] explain." So I called. He explained. They were ones he thought I might like to read, and one was a good first book (the second in the series wasn't so good, so don't bother). There was gratuitous violence, which he admitted he liked as much as the next person, as long as it wasn't real. Of course, when your Head hands you a book to read, that's what you read next, right? And Dying Light had gratuitous violence, so that's ok.

Except... this new book also includes cat torture. Oops. I read the first "bad" scene and immediately burst into tears. I scrambled for the end of the bed, where I wrapped my arms around my Big Boy, and held him, sobbing "Mommy would never let anything like that happen to you... Mommy will always take care of you..." (you get the picture). He let me cry into his fur for a while, purring a little, then pushed me away and started to groom. My Little Guy, the moment he saw what was going on, hid. Didn't even come out for bedtime treats.

The moral? Gratuitous sex: fine. I can handle it. Ditto gratuitous violence. But hurt a cat and I go to pieces.

Tag: ,

12.7.06

What a nice blogbirthday present!

Microsoft hit with 280m euro fine

Tag:

It's my blogBirthday

Here's how it all started two years ago.

Haven't managed a post-a-day yet, but Walt says that's ok. I hope you've enjoyed the past two years as much as I have. And for those of you that I e-correspond with, aren't you glad this stuff isn't finding its way into your inbox on a regular basis?

Tag:

11.7.06

Edubiblioblogorant

Did any one else read this column in the NYTimes and get upset?
I'M 24 years old, have a good job, friends. But like many of my generation, I consistently trade actual human contact for the more reliable emotional high of smiles on MySpace, winks on Match.com and pokes on Facebook. I live for Friendster views, profile comments and the Dodgeball messages that clog my cellphone every night.
Anyone?

I mentioned this at work yesterday and the response was "well, this is an extreme case". I don't think so. I think that this generation is one that is not comfortable with the face-to-face interaction. They don't want to have "real" friends, they're much happier logging on and having a huge circle of cyberfriends. That's troubling.

And then you get Big Thinkers in the library field writing (in the imperative voice)
I know everything is changing. I truly believe we are at a turning point. I know kids are learning differently. I know -- both first and secondhand -- the power of social networking and Web 2.0 communication tools. (Never Ending Search)
and
NextGens multitask as a core behavior. The packed screen that looks unfocused to the average Boomer, who probably closes unused open windows, feels natural to NextGens. The ability to integrate seamlessly and navigate multiple applications, simultaneously combining their worlds in a single environment, is a key skill of this generation. This skill is not just about running several IM conversations at the same time. Add in listening to MP3s on a PC as well as surfing the web while adding content to homework projects and assignments. This is not bad. In a noisy world, it's a great skill to be able to multitask and focus differentially. Indeed, as MS Windows and MS Office add more applications, it will become critical for libraries to access, acquire, and adapt easily information for this next generation's decision-making and work environments. (Born with the Chip)
More on that later, but for now let me just say, "oh really"? Why the library? Prove to me that this is necessary. Prove to me that there isn't a need for the "traditional" school library - gaming and SMSing and all that can take place elsewhere. Convince me that all this so-called social networking (which, because it takes place on the computer and not in real life, seems more like anti-social networking, designed by nerds and geeks who got beaten up in the playground at lunch) is really a good thing.

Thank god for Harper Lee:
"Now," she writes, "75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cellphones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books."
And, I'll bet, some real friends to share them with.

Tags: , , ,

10.7.06

Hair we go again

(sorry, couldn't resist)

I was home over the weekend, getting a chair fixed and rooting for a friend running the Boilermaker. My hair was down, and my mother mentioned on how long it was. I replied that Serena, who totally understands my hair phobias, was going to cut 3" when I go in for my semi-annual haircut.

My father's comment? "Are you sure you've thought this through enough?"

FATHERS!

Tags: ,

9.7.06

Imponderables

I know a hunter: he's careful with his guns. He's taught his child to respect them (and use them properly). He only kills what he thinks he can use/eat, and any leftovers go to the local food bank for others less fortunate than he and his family. He's doing what humans have done to find (and prepare) their food for millenia. And you know what? We'd probably all be better served if we were in closer contact with the food cycle. Might teach us a thing or two about waste and necessity and taking care of our planet.

So I have to ask: In which universe is this considered hunting? (þ: Done With Mirrors)

Tags: ,

8.7.06

Summertime, and the livin' is...

Lazy.

You knew that was coming right?

Once the kids are out of the building, things slow down. There's more time to read, to organize, to think, to veg... all the things that make summer summer.

And, apparently, there's more time to have bizarre dreams. I just thought I'd share it with y'all, in case anyone has any insight.
If you know me, you know that my hair is what today is called "long" (I remember when it was only long when it got below the waist, which mine is not quite... but I'll go with the modern definition). It's also very limp and has no body or desire to do anything. All my life I've been plagued with stylists that insist that they can get my hair to do something, and I've ended up with the worst looking cuts because they need styling and my hair does not do styling.

So, in my dream, I was home in Smalltown, and for some reason my sister was there. She has (or had) perfect hair. But I got the brains, so that's ok. {g} Anyway, she volunteered to trim my hair, and because she's done it before and done it well (straight, not shaggy), I let her. Instead of a trim, she chopped off over a foot! Suddenly, my hair's ear-level!

The dream was so vivid, that when I woke it took a few minutes to convince myself that I still had my hair, that it was only a dream...
Any ideas?

7.7.06

Imponderables

Ex-'Baywatch' Star Denies Brawl at Wimbledon.

"Two years ago, Hasselhoff expressed disappointment that he was not recognized as having helped end the Cold War through his music. "
Words fail me.

(þ: STJ)

HOW many books did you get?

OK, my boxes of Readers Advance Copy books arrived. Total: 60

Stayed tuned to see how quickly we return to scaling the original Mt. Bookpile!

Tag: ,

5.7.06

Dead.

No R.I.P. from me: Kenneth Lay, 64. What do you think the odds of his understanding the horror of what he did to others are?

Tag:

4.7.06

I have the weirdest cat

When I first brought Bogie home, his name was Emily (apparently it's hard to differentiate between the sexes at one month). He was a cute little handfull, literally. As he grew, he seemed to have not just gender, but species issues: he'd hop like a kangaroo or sit like a groundhog. He hasn't completely outgrown those, even ten years later.

The thing I find funniest is when he decides to drag one of my slippers, or nightgown, or teddy bear, to the front door. Until today, I've never actually seen this move, but as I'm sitting here, doing my early morning computer "chores", it happened. First there was yowling, then he appeared, a teddy bear clenched firmly in his teeth. After a quick circuit of the living room, yowling all the while, he dropped the bear on the floor and flopped next to it. I'm waiting to see what's next...

Tag:

3.7.06

Weirdness

I have more e-mail accounts than I know what to do with. Some are for specific purposes, and some are just there because I need a good spam account. The account attached to this blog (see sidebar for address) gets checked irregularly - like, maybe once a month. Usually there's an update from Flickr, or EduBlogs. Once in a while there's something from an e-friend.

I looked at the account today, and there was a message from someone I didn't know. It was an invitation, so I automatically deleted it (besides, I'd remembered Sherri's post). What's odd is not that I got spammed, but that the only account that got that message was this one.

Sometimes, having too many accounts is a good thing, ya know?

Tag:

Fireworks Fun

Last night MSP and I went to see the local fireworks, as I suspect many others will do tonight/tomorrow. I don't know why "they" chose the 2nd, but whatever. The thing is, they were quite good - not too flashy, not overly long, just enough to make you ooh and ahh and remember what it's like in a small town celebrating July 4th. Patriotic music blared over the loudspeaker, crowds ate ice cream, and the sky lit up with sparkly colors for a while.

Lifehacker, just in time, posted a link to "How Fireworks Work". Enjoy!

Tags: ,

2.7.06

So, no Lady Posh just yet

Beckham quits as England captain. Of course, yesterday's loss didn't help.

Tag:

Reading = No Life?

I was bemoaning my lack of having read a lot last quarter, and reminiscing about 5th grade, when we had a 'how much did you read this week contest'. My Best Friend at the time mentioned recently that she was happy that we were in separate classes because she stood a chance at winning; I remember being disqualified after a few weeks because there was no way someone else could win (for example, one weekend started with a snow day, so I read The Count of Monte Cristo, all 1,365 pages of it).

MSP's here this weekend, and he contended that I clearly had no life because of all the reading. I countered that I was taking ballet twice a week, and piano, and Hebrew, and playing with friends. I just read a lot. Almost as if to prove it, yesterday I blogged a lot, watched qualifying for the US Grand Prix, went shopping, went out for dinner/the local carnival/dessert, read the paper AND read a book. This morning he agreed, I just read a lot. And fast. We'll see how much I read today, because this afternoon is the Grand Prix, then Superman IMAX 3D, then fireworks.

Tags: ,

Happy Anniversary

This is the first anniversary of Buy a Friend a Book! Week. Now, I'm not asking for any more books (I've got those two large boxes heading my way from the ALA conference), but it is summer... and summer = summer reading. So do your friends a favor and buy them a book. While you're at it, check out the first anniversary contest. You just might get some great reading yourself!

If you're looking for inspiration, check out the "gifting" link on the sidebar.

Tags: , ,

1.7.06

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Not my best quarter - only 19 books.

Biography
  • Edge Seasons, Beth Powning; One of the few books that's really made me think about where I am in my life, although it's not written in such a way that you feel you have to
  • Stand Before Your God, Paul Watkins; Disappointing look at an American's time at Dragon and Eton
  • To Keep the Ball Rolling, Anthony Powell; Fascinating look at a man who apparently knew everyone and anyone in literature in England - Orwell, Waugh, the Sitwells, etc.. If you don't want to read A Dance to the Music of Time after this...

Children's/YA

Fiction/Literature

  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson; I liked this more than Case Histories -- who can resist a memoir that starts in utero?
  • The Finishing School, Muriel Spark; Not bad, but not great either. A relatively light read for the summer.
  • Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson; There's tons of description and very little real action, but you come away with a very real sense of what it was like to live/grow up in rural England at the turn of the 20th century

Mystery
  • Blood Hunt and Witch Hunt, Ian Rankin; Two non-Rebus mysteries, but more action-suspense a la LeCarre than mystery. Worth reading if you like that genre, or this author.
  • Corpse Candle, C. P. Doherty; Not as good as the Brother Cadfael's, but damn close.
  • Half Broken Things, Morag Joss; Good psychological mystery - I didn't begin to guess the end!
  • The Old Wine Shades Martha Grimes; The 'old gang' is back, but far less annoying than before (and far less in evidence than before). If the series keeps on it's upward track, I'll be happy.
  • Steeplechase, Jane Langton; Another of those telegraph-the-ending mysteries, but quite well done despite that.

Non-Fiction
  • A Reader's Guide Through the Wardrobe, Leland Ryken and Marjorie Lamp Mead; Only if you absolutely must.
  • Among the Gently Mad, Nicholas A. Basbanes; Poorly edited (I found two obvious typos), but a good primer for those that want to start book collecting/selling.
  • London, A.N. Wilson; Another book that needed a proofreader, but if you want a relatively readable history of London via its architecture, this is the book.
  • The Quotable Robertson Davies, James Channing Shaw; Only 160 pages? Criminal


Tags: ,